The national U-23 manager, Samson Siasia, has revealed that Mikel Obi is interested in representing Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Good thought!
The Chelsea man offers experience and big-game mentality. Mikel has played in the UEFA Champions League final, won the Nations Cup and played in the EPL for 10 years, and will be joining a team which currently consists of international neophytes.
Although I have watched the team win the U-23 CAF championship in Senegal, and I am at a loss as to what qualities apart from those stated above that Mikel will give Siasia’s team to create that extra impetus to win gold in Brazil.
For one, I cannot say for starters what Mikel’s best position is or would be at the moment.
The captain of the U-23 side is Okechukwu Azubuike, who for me is one of the best midfielders I have seen in Nigeria in a long while. Azubuike appears to play at his best in a deep-lying playmaker role, like Andrea Pirlo.
This is taking cognizance of the fact that Siasia likes to play the 4-3-3 formation with the full backs adding dimension to his team’s attack. This means that the deep-lying midfielder must be mobile and quick, two characteristics we will not normally associate with Mikel.
The other midfielder of note is Oghenekaro Etebo, a box-to-box player, who shone against Egypt for the Super Eagles. The former Warri Wolves man was named the MVP of the U-23 CAF championship.
Siasia, who took Mikel to the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, explained that no player would make his team to Brazil on cosmetic grounds.
“I guess that because Mikel missed out the last time, he wants to make up for it,” Siasia said this week.
“Not only that, the last couple of games he has played for the Super Eagles, he has been playing very well, and if he wants to be part of the team, of course he is welcome.
“We are not going to select players because they play for the Super Eagles or because they are still under the age bracket. They have to compete with those players who actually qualified the team for the Olympics.”
It has also been revealed that players like Odion Ighalo, Ogenyi Onazi, and Kenneth Omeruo, are in the initial list forwarded to the Nigeria Football Federation for consideration.
Like I said at the beginning, it is all well and good but the coach and the footballing house must ensure an alignment of goals. If it is to win – then the more the merrier but if this U-23 team is the next Super Eagles, then both parties may need a rethink.
I really want to know what you think and three over-age players you think should be included